Chinese police confirm missing rights activist being held in detention
Jiang Tianyong has been placed under surveillance at an unknown facility over suspicion of subversion, authorities tell family a month after he disappeared
A prominent Chinese rights campaigner is being detained on suspicion of subversion, according to an official notice sent to his family a month after he disappeared.
Jiang Tianyong went missing on November 21 in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, his wife Jin Bianling said earlier. This week her father received a notice by registered mail from the city’s public security bureau stating Jiang since December 1 had been held under supervision at a residential location in Zhengzhou in Henan province.
Typically authorities use this type of detention to muzzle outspoken government critics, holding them for weeks or even months before deciding whether to bring charges. If found guilty of subversion, Jiang could face up to 15 years in jail, according to his lawyer Chen Jinxue. Another lawyer earlier told the South China Morning Post Changsha police said Jiang was being held for trying to use other people’s identification to buy train tickets.
Jin said she was relieved to learn her husband was still alive but feared what might come. “I’m extremely worried and fearful over his health. He needs to take regular medicine to stabilise his blood pressure. We don’t know if his medical needs will be addressed.”
Jin, who left China with the couple’s daughter to live in California, said authorities had tortured Jiang during previous detentions. On one occasion, eight of his ribs were broken.
Jiang was a lawyer before being disbarred in 2009 but continued his activism, most recently helping to publicise the plight of nearly two dozen lawyers arrested in a broad crackdown that began last year in July and which saw hundreds of rights campaigners rounded up.
Chen said they were seeking to meet Jiang as soon as possible to ensure his rights were being respected. They were suing Changsha police for violating the criminal law which requires law enforcement authorities to notify the family of the accused within 24 hours of detention, he said.
Jin said they also intended to press forward with defamation lawsuits against seven mainland media outlets. “In those reports, they accused him of leaking state secrets, colluding with foreign forces and called him a liar and a fake lawyer. None of this is accurate,” she said.
Jiang’s disappearance drew concern from United Nations special rapporteur on human rights Philip Alston, who feared the detention was a reprisal over an earlier meeting they had. At least four diplomats paid a visit to the house of Jiang’s father in Xinyang in Henan, the family said.
Jin said her message to Jiang was to remain strong. “Me and our daughter miss you terribly. You must hold on and stay strong no matter what they do to you and come out alive,” she said.